320/3–2250: Circular airgram

The Secretary of State to Certain Diplomatic Missions 1


Reference is made to the Department’s circular airgram of August 4 in which you were requested, in your discretion, to outline our views and obtain reactions with respect to certain matters which will be considered at the forthcoming session of the United Nations General Assembly. There are indicated below the Department’s tentative positions on some additional questions. Information which you receive which, in form airgram, would not reach the Department by September 1, should be cabled. Our views on the Human Rights Covenant and Convention on Freedom of Information and on questions which will be considered by the Trusteeship Committee are being dispatched in separate communications.

1. Chinese Representation

Because of their status as co-conspirators in the aggression in Korea, and for other reasons, the United States will strongly oppose the seating of the Chinese Communists in the General Assembly. Conversely, we will favor continued representation for the Chinese National Government in the Assembly. We would agree that the question might be reconsidered on its merits at a later date. We would not object to a comprehensive General Assembly study of all aspects of the problem of how the United Nations should deal with rival claimants for the seat of a Member State in connection with the Cuban agenda item entitled “Recognition by the United Nations of Representation of a Member State”, including a study of the criteria which might be applied in such cases.

As regards procedure in the General Assembly, we favor dealing with the Chinese representation issue promptly, so that the Assembly may proceed expeditiously to the election of its officers, its general debate, and its Committee discussion without being hampered by a series of Soviet propaganda speeches and diversionary maneuvers on the subject.

The Department’s previous policy to the effect that the United States would not seek to influence other Delegations on the Chinese representation issue has been superseded as indicated above.

2. Action Against Aggression

The Department is continuing its study of steps which might be taken by the General Assembly to strengthen the capabilities of the United Nations for dealing with aggression and threats to the peace. [Page 18] (See point 1 of the Department’s circular airgram of August 4.) While our position has not yet crystallized in the form of concrete proposals, our thinking is developing along the following lines:

Provision for calling special emergency session of the General Assembly on 24 hours notice if the Security Council, because of the veto, fails to take action in case of a breach of the peace or an act of aggression;
Establishment by the General Assembly of a fact-finding and observation commission to ensure immediate and independent observation and reporting from any area in which international tension or international conflict develops, the commission not to visit any state without its consent; Interim Committee to be authorized to despatch the commission or observers thereof;
Consideration of steps whereby Member States [or groups of Member States]2 might, through voluntary action, provide the United Nations with armed forces for use in dealing with aggression or threats to the peace. Since the United States has not yet completed its studies of this matter, you should make it clear in your approach to the Foreign Office that we have not yet taken any decisions with regard to it. Nevertheless, you may state that we are giving consideration to the possibility of supporting some proposal designed to achieve this objective. The Department expects to transmit a further communication on this matter.
In connection with (c) above, but broader in that it includes economic and other non-military steps, appointment by the General Assembly of an ad hoc committee (or possibly use of the Interim Committee) to study methods of collective action consistent with the Charter (including the use of armed force) which the General Assembly might recommend to Members; cooperating Members to survey their resources to determine the nature of the assistance they might be in a position to render in accordance with any General Assembly recommendation for the restoration of international peace and security.

While the General Assembly must, in our opinion, give full attention to items along the above lines, we believe that it should not neglect constructive action in the economic and social fields to strengthen foundations of peace and advance human welfare. We feel that the General Assembly should reiterate its views on the necessity of a freer and more open world in order to minimize barriers to the flow of information, ideas and persons, as well as the obstacles to individual liberty. We also believe that the General Assembly should stress the fact that refusal of the USSR to disclose information and permit independent observation remains the great obstacle to the regulation of armaments, an objective which all free nations desire. We would be interested in any significant comments on these subjects made by the Foreign Office or any proposals they may have in mind.

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3. Lie Peace Plan

Secretary-General Lie has placed before the General Assembly his memorandum on a twenty-year program for achieving peace through the United Nations. We think that the General Assembly should associate itself with the broad objectives of the memorandum—to employ Charter principles and United Nations resources on a long-term basis to relieve international tension and move toward lasting peace. Procedurally, the Department believes that the memorandum should be dealt with as a whole, rather than by separate action on each of its parts, and that therefore it should be referred to one of the political committees, thus avoiding duplication of effort and keeping the Assembly’s workload at a minimum. (Almost all of the topics covered in the memorandum will be considered in various Assembly Committees under other agenda items.) We would hope that action on the memorandum could be limited to a single resolution commending the Secretary-General for his initiative, endorsing his general objective, and urging governments to continue their study of his proposals.

4. Slate for the Trusteeship Council

The United States favors the election of Thailand to succeed the Philippines and the re-election of the Dominican Republic, subject to these states receiving substantial support for their candidacies from other United Nations Members, including in the case of the Dominican Republic, the support of the Latin American caucus. The Department has informed both states of its support on this basis. (The Dominican Republic has not served a full term on the Trusteeship Council; it was elected last year to fill out the unexpired term of Costa Rica which resigned from the Council.)

5. Slate for Special GA Committee on Information Transmitted Under Article 73(e) of the Charter

The terms of Sweden and Venezuela expire. The United States intends to support Norway, if it is a candidate, to succeed Sweden–otherwise Sweden for re-election; and to vote for Venezuela for reelection if it desires the post. If Venezuela is not a candidate, the United States will support another Latin American state, preferably the candidate of the Latin American caucus. (For terms of reference and composition of the Special Committee consult the 1949 report of the President to Congress on US participation in the United Nations, pp. 160165 and p. 119.)

6. German and Japanese Prisoners of War

The United Kingdom, Australia and the United States have jointly submitted for inclusion in the supplementary General Assembly [Page 20] agenda the following item: “Failure of the USSR to repatriate or otherwise account for prisoners of war”. A summary of the background and the lines of proposed action in the General Assembly follows:

At the end of hostilities in 1945 a large number of military personnel of various nationalities were in Allied hands. The Allied Powers entered into several agreements with respect to the repatriation of war prisoners, including Paragraph 9 of the Potsdam Proclamation of July 26, 1945, the Moscow Foreign Ministers’ Agreement of April 23, 1947, and the USSR–SCAP Agreement of December 19, 1946. The Soviet Union has not fully complied with these agreements and has repeatedly refused to furnish information with regard to its repatriation programs. On April 22 and May 5, 1950, Tass announced that the USSR had completed repatriation of all Japanese and German prisoners of war, except those detained because of war crimes or illness. Other powers having control responsibility in Germany and Japan stated their disbelief of the Soviet contention and requested the USSR to agree to the designation of an international humanitarian body which would make a thorough examination of the situation. This request has been ignored by the Soviet Union.

In the General Assembly substantial evidence will be presented against the Soviet contention. With respect to Assembly action, we are thinking in terms of a resolution under which the General Assembly would (a) state that the evidence indicates that large numbers of prisoners have not been accounted for; (b) declare that the international standards of civilized nations with respect to the repatriation of war prisoners should be observed; (c) establish a commission of impartial individuals [or designate an impartial body] to make a thorough investigation and render any possible assistance to facilitate repatriation; and (d) request all governments and authorities to cooperate with the commission.

7. Relations of States Members of the United Nations with Spain

On this item, placed on the supplementary General Assembly agenda at the request of the Dominican Republic, the United States will support a resolution revoking the following provisions of the Assembly’s resolution 39(I) of December 12, 1946: (a) paragraph recommending that the Franco Government be debarred from United Nations agencies and activities; and (b) paragraph recommending that all Members of the United Nations immediately recall their Ambassadors and Ministers Plenipotentiary accredited to Madrid.

The United States does not support repeal of the 1946 resolution as a whole, or any action which would signify approval of the present Spanish Regime. We believe that much wider support will be found [Page 21] for action to amend the 1946 resolution as outlined above than for its outright repeal.

8. Adjustment of the Libyan-Egyptian Frontier

The Government of Egypt submitted this question for inclusion in the provisional agenda of the General Assembly, (For exact language see item 60 of the Provisional Agenda of the General Assembly.) The Department believes that the question of the Egyptian-Libyan boundary is a matter for negotiation between the Governments of Egypt and Libya after Libya has achieved independence. We think, therefore, that the General Assembly should take no action which might prejudice the rights or interests of either state on this question.

It will be recalled that on November 21, 1949 the General Assembly adopted a resolution recommending that Libya be constituted an independent and sovereign state; that this independence should become effective as soon as possible and in any case not later than January 1, 1952; that a constitution for Libya, including the form of the Government, should be determined by representatives of the inhabitants of the three component areas of Libya—Cyrenaica, Tripolitania and The Fezzan—meeting and consulting together in a National Assembly.

9. Invitation to the Secretary-General of the Arab League To Attend Sessions of the General Assembly

Syria proposed for inclusion in the provisional agenda of the General Assembly an item entitled “Permanent Invitation to the Arab League to attend sessions of the General Assembly”.

On October 16, 1948 the General Assembly adopted a resolution requesting the Secretary-General “to invite the Secretary-General of the Organization of American States to be present as an observer at the sessions of the General Assembly”. It is understood that under the above agenda item Syria intends to propose the adoption of a similar resolution with respect to the Secretary-General of the Arab League. The United States will support the adoption of such a resolution.

10. Eritrea

Pursuant to the resolution of the last General Assembly, the Interim Committee is now considering the report of the United Nations Commission on Eritrea with a view to making a recommendation to the General Assembly regarding the disposition of the territory. The United States has preferred a solution providing for the incorporation of Eastern Eritrea in Ethiopia and the Western Province in the Sudan. However, the United States is now prepared to accept and support a form of federation of Eritrea with Ethiopia if it is acceptable to Ethiopia, and if it is satisfactory to most of the members of the Interim Committee and to Italy. A resolution providing for [Page 22] federation is at present being negotiated and may be introduced in the Interim Committee; if its terms are satisfactory, the United States would support this resolution in the Interim Committee and in the General Assembly. The resolution provides for: (a) federation of Eritrea with Ethiopia under the Ethiopian crown; (b) full federal government authority with respect to defense, foreign relations, finance and currency, foreign and interstate commerce, customs, and communications, and single nationality throughout the federation; (c) local Eritrean autonomy in all other matters; (d) safeguards against discrimination regarding minority groups in Eritrea and guarantees for basic human rights and fundamental freedoms for all inhabitants of the territory; (e) appointment of a United Nations Commissioner who would consult with the Ethiopian Government and advise and assist the Eritrean Assembly regarding the formation of a constitution; (f) administration of Eritrea by the present administering authority until the constitution goes into effect.

(The question of the disposition of Eritrea has been before the General Assembly since 1948. The Department considers it important both for the prestige of the Assembly and the long-term interests of the Eritrean people that a reasonable arrangement be found this year which can command the necessary two-thirds vote in the General Assembly.)

  1. Sent to USUN and to the same diplomatic missions as indicated in footnote 1, p. 10.
  2. Brackets within the document appear in the source text.